Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
For an overview of the process I use to grade players, the factors I use in determining where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the season starts. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me.
You can find a full listing of each team's top prospect list in the Top Prospects of 2009 Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team's best fan sites. We continue with the Colorado Rockies...
Also See: Colorado Rockies, Prospects 1 - 5
Body Type - similar to Hector Gomez, but less athletic
Quick hands lead to the ability to make hard contact...improved plate discipline from a year ago by increasing his walks and cutting back on the strikeouts...has below average power at the moment, but should continue to add strength to his frame...uses an entire field approach, which also puts a cap on his power
A mechanical change in which Mayora cut down on a high leg kick to get his foot down quicker, which enabled his hands to load in time was made after the 2006 season and has likely helped contribute to his reduction in strikeouts the past two seasons. (Source: Rockies' Farm Report, Rocky Mountain News)
Defense - Can play every infield position. With the injury to Hector Gomez on the outset of the 2008 season, Mayora moved over from second base to shortstop, where he is below average overall at the position, but still playable
Speed - Mayora's speed is borderline average and while he stole 26 bases a year ago in Single-A, his stolen base percentage leaves a lot to be desired.
Best Case Outcome - average or slightly below average second baseman
More Likely Outcome - super utility guy that can play every position but center field and catcher.
This is your helium guy in the Colorado organization. Admittedly, there isn't much information to go on and I have yet to see him, but I like what I've heard about the young catcher and his numbers last year were very impressive.
At age 19 in the Pioneer League, Rosario was the 14th youngest hitter in the league and put up the highest OPS of any 19 y/o with more than 100 ABs.
Rosario is well regarded both offensively and defensively and as a catcher his bat doesn't have to have great value. Obviously, he still has much to learn, but he'll have plenty of time to hone his craft as he's a long way off from the major league level.
Rosario made a dramatic turnaround from his 2007 season. He showed off his good bat speed, and plus raw power by making improvements almost across the board--in ISO-power, BABIP, contact rate, and line drive rate:
2007 to 2008
ISO-power - .087 to .216
BABIP - .293 to .361
K% - 29.9 to 19.5
LD% - 9 to 20
Rosario made great strides defensively as well with his receiving skills and he showed off a plus arm in throwing out 46% of the runners trying to steal off him. His pitch calling still needs work.
Best Case Outcome - he's too young to really make a specific best case projection, but one could reasonably conclude his best case outcome would be around the level of an everyday catcher.
More Likely Outcome - more likely is that he becomes a back-up catcher when you consider his defensive skills, but we'll know much more once he reaches higher levels of competition
Body Type - long and lanky
Fastball - sits comfortably between 92 and 94, touching 95 and can throw it for strikes
Curveball - potentially an MLB average pitch, has a slurve like action and he needs to tighten it up...another pitch he can throw for strikes
Change-Up - pretty fringy, but the pitch will most likely determine his fate as a starter
Rodriguez is often lumped in with the handful of mid-level right handed pitching prospects that include Brandon Hynick, Chaz Roe, Conor Graham, and Cory Riordan. The advantage he has over each of them is age.
He's always been young for his level and that trend will continue next year at Double-A Tulsa. He misses a healthy amount of bats, but is far from overpowering. He also throws strikes and his control has improved in each of the last two seasons.
A problem for Rodriguez has been how hittable he's been. He's a fly ball pitcher so he's always going to give up his fair share of homeruns, but his BABIP rates have always been high. At Modesto last year, it was a .311, which was an improvement, but he was likely helped from the ball park he played in.
Best Case Outcome - No. 4 starter or possible set up man...his stuff could play up if moved to the bullpen
More Likely Outcome - moved to the bullpen and becomes a 4th or 5th reliever type
Notes - It was found out recently Weathers will undergo Tommy John Surgery and miss the 2009 season.
Body Type - 6-foot-2, well built
Fastball - ranges anywhere from 91 - 96, can straighten out at higher velocities, but has late life in that it appears to jump on the hitter moments before reaching home plate...doesn't have great command of the pitch. The fastball below is clocked at 96 mph:
Slider - hard variety ranging from 84 - 86...late breaking, but inconsistent
Mechanics - aggressive, drifts through his balance point, which I like...never been a fan of the arm action--very loopy...good separation between the torso and hips...gets out in front which adds some deception to his fastball...some recoil at the end of his delivery, which is a red flag
Strengths - misses bats, difficult to hit...gets a solid percentage of ground balls...has a bull dog mentality on the mound
Weaknesses - control--walked 14.4% of the batters he faced whichis way too high...struggles against lefties--K-rate drops and BB-rate increases. Weathers is starting to get up there in age as a prospect even though he was drafted just last year. He is currently 23 years old and will turn 24 next June. He will be close to 25 years old when he returns
Best Case Outcome - returns at full strength, improves his control, and becomes Colorado's closer
More Likely Outcome - returns at full strength, but still struggles with his control and becomes one of Colorado's set-up men
Body Type - athletic and pretty projectable
If Blackmon finds a way to develop some power, he could see a big rise on this list. He shows an ability to hit for a high average (.396 at Georgia Tech, .334 at Tri-City). He has a small loading of the hands and keeps the bat head in the hitting zone for a lengthy period of time. Shows an ability to spoil good pitches, while spraying line drives all over the field.
He does get a little out in front, so he could wait on the ball a little longer as he displays enough bat speed to do so. He's a high contact player, but as of right now his plate discipline is poor. His ability to make contact masks some of these problems.
Defense - played primarily right field at Georgia Tech, but played center field for the Rockies. He's new to the position and hitting in general because he switched from pitcher to hitter prior to his junior season at Georgia Tech, which speaks to his athletic ability and his arm strength. The tools are there to be a very solid center field. Speed is above average.
Best Case Outcome - average everyday center fielder
More Likely Outcome - quality fourth outfielder that can play all three outfield positions
In 2007, Nelson's power improved significantly--.156 ISO to .212--and what made it more impressive was he moved from a hitter's park to a pitcher's park. However, in 2008, Nelson's power dropped to his worst level since 2005 at .109.
Also in 2007, Nelson increased his BB% from 6.2 to 9.6 and his K% dropped from 19.6 to 15.3. While the BB% increased again--to 11% in 2008--the K% increased all the way to 21%. Part of this we can attribute to Nelson's poor health for much of the season. An injury to his hand effected his ability to swing a bat and according to him, he never felt right the entire season.
Even when healthy, however, Nelson has never really showed an ability to RAKE. By this I mean he has never shown the ability to hit the ball with consistent authority all over the field or the ability to take a pitch in any location and drop it in for a hit. You usually see this ability show up in a hitter's BABIP at the minor league level. Nelson has always had relatively average BABIPs and hasn't shown the ability to hit for a respectable batting average at the big league level. I need to see Nelson replicate his success in 2007 before moving him up in the rankings.
Grade - C+
Holcomb stands out because of his of plate discipline. He has more walks than strikeouts in his two professional seasons...walked in 9.5 and 11.1 percent of his plate appearances the past two years while striking out in 9.2 and 10.3 percent of his plate appearances. The high contact rate allowed Holcomb hit for a .317 average.
Holcomb doesn't have that baseball player look--he's short, stocky, and not a great athlete so he is often overlooked in prospect talks. However, he is quick to the ball, possessing a short stroke and displaying a nice combination of bat speed and quickness. I'm not sure the raw power or the ability to hit the ball with consistent authority is there and since he's a little older for his level, I would like to see him replicate his success at higher levels. His ISO-power was a respectable .173, but he also played in a hitter's park. His upside is that of a slightly below average everyday third baseman but more likely he becomes a four-corners utility guy off the bench
Grade - C+
Not a lot of upside with Young, but he is a fast, versatile, and an instinctive player that can help out a good major league club. The son of long time major leaguer Eric Young, the jr. Young has stolen an amazing 206 bases the last three seasons in 270 attempts. The percentage needs to improve, but it certainly gives an indication of just how fast Young is. There isn't much, if any, projection left so he essentially is what he is--a .270 hitter with below average power and the ability to draw a walk and turn that walk into a double. The Rockies are trying out Young in center field in a move to clear some space in the log jam they have at the middle infield positions and thus far, he's played center field relatively well. Young should be able to carve out a niche as utility man and pinch runner at the MLB level.
Grade - C/C+
Riordan doesn't wow you with his stuff--his fastball sits anywhere from 87 - 92 and tails away from lefties late, his slider has solid bite but his sorta slurvy, his curveball is clocked in the mid-70's and he shows good feel on his change-up. However, none of his pitches would qualify as plus. The slider is his closest to a plus pitch. On the other hand, his control is excellent and he knows how to pitch by mixing speeds and pitching backwards. I do think there is potential for Riordan's stuff to improve. He has a loose, quick arm, but he doesn't throw with much intent. He has a somewhat short stride and could stand to do a better job incorporating his lower body into his wind-up. His stuff could also play up with a move to the bullpen.
Grade - C
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Brandon Hynick, Delta Cleary, Chaz Roe, Shane Lindsey, Brian Rike, Joe Koshanski, Esmil Rogers, Christian Colonel, Everth Cabrera
Next Up: Los Angeles Dodgers, Prospects 1 - 5
Also See: Colorado Rockies Team Page
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